Senior Emily Holsopple will have a significant impact on Saturday's match with No. 1 WVU. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
It's not how you start. It's how you finish.
That doesn't mean that winning should be deemphasized, but with a more important goal in mind down the road, losing in the regular season isn't quite be-all and end-all for the Kentucky rifle team. The Wildcats, however, have been pretty exceptional up to this point.
UK sure would like a win this weekend though when they host No. 1 ranked West Virginia in the final regular season match.
"It would be a great accomplishment with the team that West Virgina has to beat them," said head coach Harry Mullins. "A win against West Virginia would be huge stepping stone in getting where we want to be at the end of the season."
It's been an ongoing rivalry between these two top programs. West Virginia has a rich history in the sport, claiming 14 national championships, including one that they came back and "stole" from Kentucky in 2009.
Over the last several years, the teams have continued to establish themselves as among the top rifle programs in the country. Currently, West Virginia is the top dog, but it hasn't been that way all season.
The No. 3 Wildcats have already faced one No. 1-ranked opponent this season in TCU. The Horned Frogs, now ranked No. 2 and sandwiched between WVU and UK, have been the Cats' toughest task yet in the 2012-13 season.
In the mid-November match-up, UK and TCU tangled in another one-versus-three matchup with the Horned Frogs handing Kentucky its first and only loss of the season. The Cats shot well, scoring a 4693 that would have been good to beat each of the other nine opponents they've faced so far this season. TCU was fantastic on that day, however, and UK's best score of the season, a 4716, would not have been able to overcome TCU's 4718 final tally.
"They were pretty mad about the loss," said Mullins. "We tried to peak, but we didn't peak. We learned why we didn't peak and therefore hopefully we'll be able to learn from our past performances in order to enhance our present performances."
West Virginia will pose every bit of the challenge that TCU gave the Wildcats in November and then some. Now it's time to see what the Cats have truly learned since their last date with No. 1.
Though the match starts at 8 a.m. ET Saturday, several of the stars in the sport will be on display throughout the afternoon. West Virginia, as evidenced by the No. 1 ranking, has several athletes capable of earning All-America honors this season.
"They've got some very talented people between Maren Prediger, who shoots great air rifle, and Petra Zublasing, who is great in both (air rifle and smallbore)," said Mullins. "Then you add Garrett Spurgeon and Meelis Kiisk and the rest of the squad and they're definitely the team out there that everybody's chasing."
Though the competition is stout this weekend, UK isn't the No. 3 team in the country for nothing and could have a few All-Americans of its own.
The Wildcats boast a duo of shooters who are pretty special in their own right: senior Henri Junghanel and junior Emily Holsopple. Each has championship experience from their national title run in 2010 and lead the Cats as their top two shooters along with freshman Connor Davis.
They also have international experience, as Junghanel, Holsopple and Davis along with Elijah Ellis went to compete in the Bavarian Air Gun Championships in Germany last weekend. Now, for the first time in three weeks, the team will reunite to compete against the nation's best.
The time apart shouldn't be a problem, but if UK ends up losing this weekend on account of a strain in chemistry, the team as a whole is still better off.
"I think the opportunities that were given by the four being gone definitely paid dividends," said Mullins. "We ended up beating Memphis on the second day in Mississippi and came in third at the Withrow Invitational.
"Does it stink that they weren't together? Yes, but I think we prepared the overall group for that. And it probably instilled some confidence in the team as well."
At the end of the day, when the dust settles and the final shots are made, win or lose, Kentucky is focused on a much greater picture. It also likely won't be the last time that UK and WVU are shooting against each other this season.
After this weekend, UK will look forward to the NCAA Qualifier in mid-February followed by the GARC Conference Championships the following week where they will see the Mountaineers yet again. After that, if all goes as planned, Kentucky will be competing for a national championship in the second weekend of March.
Regular-season victories are great, and UK would certainly relish an upset of the Mountaineers on Saturday, but the Wildcats are much more focused on improving this weekend as they prepare for potential postseason glory.
"As long as we're on an upward climb of performance, as long as we keep focusing on performance going forward, I think that our scores will match that focus because we have talented people on our team," said Mullins.
Men's basketball - Following its most complete victory of the season within SEC action, the Wildcats conclude its two-game road swing through the Heart of Dixie at Alabama on Tuesday. - Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer turned in another 17-point performance, while classmate Ryan Harrow reached double figures for the eighth straight game and dished out a UK career-high eight assists in the win. Freshman Nerlens Noel continued his imposing defensive prowess with a career-high seven blocks to couple with 10 points and nine rebounds. - Alabama enters the matchup following a one-point victory over Texas A&M on Saturday. The Anthony Grant-led Crimson Tide are 11-6 overall on the season and own a 3-1 record within SEC play.
Women's basketball - No. 5 Kentucky improved to 18-1 overall, 6-0 in the SEC with commanding wins over Mississippi State and Auburn last week in Memorial Coliseum. The Cats are now riding a school-record 33-game home winning streak and the nation's longest overall winning streak at 17. - The 100-47 win over Mississippi State was the largest margin of victory over an SEC opponent in school history. Junior center DeNesha Stallworth led four players in double digits with a UK career-high 25 points in just 24 minutes of action. Senior All-America candidate A'dia Mathies followed with 21 points. UK forced 25 turnovers and won the rebounding battle 46-20. - In UK's "We Back Pat" game vs. Auburn, defense was again the name of the game. The Wildcats held the Tigers to just 21 first half points, taking a 51-21 lead at the break. Mathies led the way with 16 points in the opening stanza. She went on to notch her second straight 20-point game with a season-high 24 points on a near perfect shooting night. Mathies hit 8-of-9 from the field, including 5-of-6 from the 3-point line and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. Gymnastics - The No. 14 University of Kentucky gymnastics team defeated No. 9 Arkansas in convincing fashion in front of more than 5,600 fans inside Memorial Coliseum on Friday. - The Wildcats took the meet 195.5-193.075 while winning every team and individual event. - The Wildcats continued the unprecedented start to the season as Friday's win gave the program back-to-back SEC wins for the first time ever. All four wins this season have come against higher-ranked opponents. - Kentucky is off to the best start in school history as the Wildcats have never before topped 195 in all three meets to begin the season. - Audrey Harrison stole the Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic show winning the individual all-around competition for the second consecutive week. The Knoxville, Tenn., native's season high 39.275 was highlighted by her 9.9 to anchor on uneven bars with a score, which ties for her career high. - Harrison won individual titles on bars and floor exercise (9.85). The junior now has four event titles this year and 11 all-time.
Rifle - Kentucky knocked off two top-15 teams over the weekend in Oxford, Miss., defeating No. 11 Ole Miss (4670 - 4611) on Saturday and No. 10 Memphis (4646 - 4598) on Sunday. - Senior Heather Greathouse led the Wildcats in their win over Ole Miss, shooting an 1176 aggregate score. Freshman Connor Davis delivered a 594 in air rifle. - Senior Ed Ryznar had a strong showing in Kentucky's win over Memphis, shooting a 574 in smallbore and 588 in air rifle. - Sophomore Cody Manning recorded a new personal best aggregate score of 1162 in Sunday's match with Memphis.
Men's tennis - The Kentucky men's tennis team got off to a 2-0 start to the 2013 season with two 7-0 wins over Northern Kentucky and Morehead State. - The pair of wins were the first in the head coaching career of Cedric Kauffmann. - No. 15 Tom Jomby and No. 94 Anthony Rossi each earned singles wins on Sunday, while Jomby and Kevin Lai went 2-0 on the day in doubles. - UK next takes to the court on Wednesday at No. 22 Indiana in Bloomington for the Wildcats first of 15 matches versus ranked teams in 2013.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team opened the 2013 season with two dominating wins, defeating Morehead State 7-0 and Belmont 6-1 on Saturday. - Freshman Nadia Ravita opened her collegiate career with two singles wins in the No. 1 spot and two doubles wins paired with junior Caitlin McGraw in the No. 1 doubles slot. - Sophomore Stephanie Fox failed to drop a set in two singles wins on Saturday, taking both contests 6-0, 6-0.
Tuesday, Jan. 22 Men's basketball at Alabama - 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 23 Men's tennis at Indiana - 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 24 Women's basketball at South Carolina - 7:00 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 25 Track and field hosts Rod McCravy Memorial - 10:00 a.m. Men's tennis hosts Michigan State - 1:00 p.m. Gymnastics at Alabama - 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 26 Track and field hosts Rod McCravy Memorial - 10:00 a.m. Swimming and diving host Louisville - 12:30 p.m. Men's basketball hosts LSU - 4:00 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Texas/South Carolina
Connor Davis and three of his teammates will compete in the Bavarian Air Gun Championships Jan. 24-26 in Germany. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
The Kentucky rifle team has multiple enormous opportunities ahead of them in the next few weeks. The Wildcats will compete in two matches this weekend in Oxford, Miss., four of their athletes will compete in the Bavarian Air Gun Championships in Germany next weekend and they have a date with second-ranked West Virginia on February 2.
The only caveat is that those four Europe-bound shooters, four of the best shooters on the team, will miss this Sunday's match against Memphis.
Henri Junghanel will compete for his native Germany in the Bavarian Championships while Emily Holsopple, Connor Davis and Elijah Ellis will suit up for the United States.
It's a major honor to have four different shooters represent the University of Kentucky at the international level.
"It's great for the team," said Junghanel. "I've been on the international circuits for awhile now, but that's an awesome experience athletics-wise, but also generally. To be in Munich, it's a really interesting place, and it will be great for everybody."
It will be the first time Ellis will have competed internationally. In fact, it will be the first time he'll ever even have left the country. But for the other three shooters, they each have experience in that event. Even so, more competition at such a high level can only help down the road.
"That intensity level," said Davis. "In the international competition, a good score over there is a lot better than over here. If you're lower here, it's not as good over there. Just bringing that intensity from the international level home really helps."
Junghanel will not get to compete at all this weekend, missing both the Ole Miss and Memphis matches to head home early to train in Austria. The other three will leave immediately after their conference match with Ole Miss.
But the biggest opportunity for the UK rifle team will happen on the range in Oxford, Miss., when the Wildcats face Memphis without four of the best they have to offer.
"It's a great opportunity for them to embrace the opportunity of it's my time, and it's my time right now," said head coach Harry Mullins. "Now, for some of them to step into the team spotlight, that's what the basis of our program is for them to eventually move into that."
Whoever earns the right to fill those spots will have big shoes to fill. Junghanel leads the team in smallbore (588.9) and air rifle (593.0). Holsopple is second in the smallbore (584.9) while Davis is second in air rifle (591.3). But whoever ends up taking their place will have earned that opportunity.
"We don't want that to happen by default or attrition," said Mullins. "We want it to happen by hard work. I'm not looking for them to give me the scores that Henri, Connor and Emily give, but the effort that they bring every match."
While those four are off competing in Germany, their thoughts will still be with their Kentucky team back in the United States. However, they are all confident that those they leave behind can more than pick up the slack and earn a win without them this weekend.
"I have great faith in them that they will step up and perform very well," said Holsopple. "It's very important, but I think with the depth we have on our team that should be no problem."
When those four shooters get home, Kentucky will face the No. 2 team in the country and rival West Virginia. UK came out hot after the break and shot a 4,705 in its first competition back against Alaska-Fairbanks.
Kentucky will continue to look to improve on that opening score of the New Year this weekend, but that will especially be case when they face the Mountaineers at full strength. Though the Wildcats are looking to go toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the country, from here on out, they are focused on what they need to do each day to get better.
"I think there's still plenty of room for improvement," said Holsopple. "That 4,700 mark is a good mark, but we still have more than enough potential to exceed that and get to 4,720 and maybe even 4,730."
As the season wears on with aspirations of postseason success ahead, Kentucky is doing its best to focus on the task at hand every day. Whether it's practice, matches this weekend in Mississippi or an international meet in Germany. It's the only way the Cats will cash in on all the opportunities coming their way.
"There's still space for improvement, but it's important to know that's something we can build on," said Junghanel of their victory over Alaska-Fairbanks. "We don't have to be No. 1 right now. It's good, everything's fine as long as you're No. 1 in the end."
Men's basketball • Kentucky dropped its first SEC home opener in the John Calipari era to the hot-shooting Texas A&M Aggies behind a 40-point effort from Elston Turner on Saturday. • UK freshman Nerlens Noel had his best game in the blue and white with 15 points, 11 rebounds, seven blocks, six assists and four steals. He's the first player in the NCAA to put up those numbers in a single game since 1996-97. • Sophomore Ryan Harrow scored in double-figures in the sixth-straight game with 14 points, while freshman Archie Goodwin led the squad with 17 points. Women's basketball • No. 6/6 Kentucky improved to 16-1 overall, 4-0 in the SEC and increased its school-record winning streak to 15 after hard-fought wins over the league's newest members No. 20/21 Texas A&M (65-52) and Missouri (69-43) last week. • Against the Aggies, the Wildcats rallied from a six-point half time deficit, using its tenacious defense along with the hot shooting of reigning SEC Player of the Year A'dia Mathies and redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O'Neill. Mathies hit three of her four 3-pointers in the second half for 11 of her season-high 23 points, while O'Neill added 15 points and a career-high eight assists in the win. • The Cats traveled to Missouri for the first time in program history on Sunday and again, it was their pressure defense that sealed the victory and snapped the Tigers' 11-game home winning streak. The Tigers, who came into the game leading the nation in 3-pointers made per game with 9.9, were limited to a season-low two 3-pointers. UK also held Missouri's Morgan Eye, the nation's leading 3-point shooter, to just six points and zero treys for the first time this season.
Gymnastics • The University of Kentucky gymnastics team performed solidly on all four events to gather an overall team score of 195.525, in a win at Auburn on Friday night. • The win was Kentucky's first SEC road victory in a dual meet since 1999, and the first SEC season-opening win since 2008. • The Wildcats are off to the best start in school history as they've compiled two straight scores more than 195 to begin a season for the first time ever. • Junior Audrey Harrison posted a 39.2 to win her first career SEC dual all-around competition, and her fifth career all-around title. • Overall, Kentucky earned 13 season or career-high scores in the meet. Rifle • The Kentucky rifle team won its first match of the spring Sunday with a 4705 - 4687 victory over No. 4 Alaska-Fairbanks. • Senior Henri Junghänel led the Wildcats with an aggregate score of 1184, delivering a 590 in smallbore to go along with a 594 in air rifle. • The Wildcats had a strong showing across the board in air rifle with all six shooters breaking the 590 barrier.
Track and field • Bradley Szypka, Cally Macumber and Darryl Bradshaw dazzled the home crowd in Nutter Field House as all three took event titles on Saturday at the Kentucky Invitational, the Wildcats' first home meet of the season. • Szypka won the shot put for the second consecutive meet with a personal record of 18:36m/60-03.0, which came on his final throw. The mark gave him the No. 4 shot put in the nation this season as of Saturday evening. • Macumber won the mile in PR time of 4:42.30, as she pulled away from the field, which included two unattached runners who competed in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials at 800 meters. • The cross country All-American's time - in her first run of the indoor season - currently ranks as second-fastest mile in the country this season. • Bradshaw won the men's 60-meter hurdles in 8:07, while Brandon Bagley took fifth in the event with a time of 8.24. • Kadeem Kushimo also turned in a PR time of 47.85 in the 400m, which was the best run by a collegiate competitor in the event. The sophomore finished second overall. Upcoming schedule
It's been 56 days since the Kentucky rifle team has fired a shot in team competition. You have to go all the way back to Nov. 17 when the Wildcats hosted No. 1 TCU. Sunday, Kentucky gets back on the horse with a match in Murray, Ky.
The opponent? No. 4 Alaska-Fairbanks. That's not exactly the ideal way to ease back into the competitive ring. Yet, the first match out of the holiday break has usually spelled success for Harry Mullins and his team.
"After you take a break and go and compete, we've typically seen some success just coming right out of the chute," said Mullins. "During our training camp during the break, we don't have a lot of the other time commitments that athletes typically have to deal with."
Kentucky, the No. 3 team in the collegiate rifle rankings, is hoping that it can get back to where it was before the break. Though the loss to TCU was disappointing, the Wildcats still shot 4693 as a team. Most teams in the country would be ecstatic with that type of effort.
Mullins and his athletes, two years removed from a national championship, know that there are points to be had and there's more effort to be exerted on the range. In order for that to happen, the shooters must give of themselves to their teammates. Mullins instituted several team-building exercises during their training time over the winter break. He's seen his team begin to jell off the range with hopes of that translating to more success on it. It's going to take teamwork.
"Teamwork in the sense of everybody not necessarily everybody maxing out on their performance, but not leaving easy points out there on the board," said Mullins. "We don't want to sit there and bank on two or three people shooting high-590s and then others coming in in the 580s. We'd much rather stay in the mid to low 590s across the board."
The intensity died down a bit after the disappointment of their first loss of the season at the hands of TCU, but as training camp picked up and the date with Alaska-Fairbanks drew near, the intensity has picked back up as Mullins has introduced some self-manufactured pressure into the range.
With another meeting of top-five shooting teams in the country set for Sunday in Murray, the quantity and the quality of the athletes on the range should be enough to send the intensity through the roof. Not to mention the fact that UK and Alaska-Fairbanks have become rivals over the years with each having their fair share of success.
"We've taken our licks on the chin against Alaska many years," said Mullins. "We've been fortunate to be on the other side of that the last few years, but Alaska's a quality program. It's going to be very close, and we're going to have to work hard to get it to fall in our favor."
What will add to that intensity is the pressure they'll experience of performing against another top-5 opponent. That pressure will likely be there as Kentucky makes its way down the homestretch to the postseason.
"Having the pressure put on them, because every match from here on out is going to be pressure-ridden because we're trying to prepare them for the NCAAs," said Mullins.
The pressure and intensity is key because Kentucky is going to have to learn how to deal with and overcome adversity in order to be properly seasoned for the road ahead. That's why Mullins doesn't hesitate to schedule teams like TCU and Alaska-Fairbanks.
Mullins is simply looking for the best way to motivate his shooters to be ready when the postseason comes.
"The holidays are nice, but we try to put the schedule together so that most, if not all, matches from here on out have a postseason intensity," said Mullins. "We've put some parameters on the team and requirements on things they have to do and cut down the travel squad just to increase the intensity on the range."
On Sunday, Mullins will get to see if all of that preparation pays off and if the Cats are on the right track for postseason success.
Football - Kentucky was impressive both on offense and defense in a win over Samford. Offensively, Kentucky posted 455 yards of total offense including 342 on the ground, while the UK defense limited Samford to 102 yards of total offense - which was the lowest output by a UK opponent since 1996. - True freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow went 10-of-13 for 66 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 59 yards and a rushing touchdown. Junior Raymond Sanders led the team in rushing with 123 yards and a TD. - Linebacker Avery Williamson paced the defense with 13 tackles, including two sacks, becoming the first player since 1990 to have four straight games with 13 or more tackles.
Men's basketball - Freshmen Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel led the effort against Duke as Poythress scored 20 points, while Noel contributed 15 points and eight rebounds. - Kentucky used sharp shooting in going over the century mark in the 101-49 victory over Lafayette. Kentucky's .645 shooting from the floor as a team was the best under fourth-year head coach John Calipari and best for any UK team since 2008. - Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer hit a career-high seven 3-pointers. Poythress charted a career-high 22 points to become the first freshman to have back-to-back 20-point efforts since Brandon Knight in February 2011.
Volleyball - Junior Alexandra Morgan shined in a 3-1 win over Georgia with nine kills on a .400 hitting percentage, but it was her defense that proved the difference. Morgan had a career-high 10 blocks to accompany three aces and four digs. The 10 rejections was easily a career high and it marks the first 10-block performance by a Wildcat since Lauren Rapp had 10 blocks in an NCAA Tournament victory back in 2010. - UK honored the senior class of Ashley Frazier, Christine Hartmann and Stephanie Klefot before the match. Frazier had nine kills, Hartmann a double-double with 45 assists and 13 digs, and Klefot a match-high 19 scoops in the victory.
Women's basketball - UK's first road trip of the season wasn't a very pleasant one as the Wildcats dropped an 85-51 decision to No. 1 Baylor in the programs' first-ever meeting. It didn't help that UK shot its lowest shooting percentage since 2008, netting just 27.1 percent from the field. Senior guard A'dia Mathies led UK with 12 points, while sophomore guard Bria Goss added 11. - UK regrouped and charted an 80-46 win over High Point on Saturday, hitting 50 percent from the field (30-of-60) and forcing 32 turnovers on season-high tying 19 steals. Mathies once again led the way, scoring all 17 of her points in the first half. Junior forward Samarie Walker pulled down a season-best 12 rebounds to go along with six points, three assists and three steals.
Women's soccer - UK fell to No. 5/6 UCLA in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship, ending their season with a 14-6-1 mark. - It was the first time UK had ever advanced in the NCAA Tournament in 20 years of competition. - Kentucky finished the season with a 2-1-1 record against top-15 teams in the country, knocking off No. 12 Louisville, No. 13 Florida and earning a draw with No. 6 Texas A&M.
Rifle - The Kentucky rifle team shot a 4693 on Saturday but fell to top-ranked TCU. - Freshman Connor Davis tied a program best in air rifle with a 597. Senior Henri Junghänel led the team with an aggregate score of 1185, shooting a 590 in smallbore followed by a 595 in air rifle. Cross country - Cally Macumber capped a great season with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA National Championships on Saturday. She finished the 6K race in a season-best time of 19:42.20, fewer than 15 seconds behind the race winner. She is the highest NCAA finisher for the Wildcat women since Valerie McGovern was the national runner-up in 1989. Macumber became the first woman in UK history to complete a 6K race in less than 20 minutes. - Chelsea Oswald also had an impressive day as she came in 37th with a time of 20:13.00. Both Macumber and Oswald earned All-America honors, marking the first time since 1988 that multiple UK women were garnered that recognition in the same year. - Luis Orta also impressed by finishing with a time of 30:52.30 in his first NCAA Championship appearance.
Swimming and diving - Kentucky's men's and women's swimming teams earned second place finishes in the Volunteer Invitational this weekend. The Wildcats earned strong individual performances from freshman Matt Roman and junior Lucas Gerotto on the men's side, while sophomore Julia Gerotto, senior Mandy Myers and senior Megan Eppler led the way for the women. - Junior diver Greg Ferrucci had a big weekend, sweeping the 1-meter (369.95), 3-meter (410.90), and the platform (383.35) events over Tennessee and Duke.
Men's soccer - Kentucky fell to No. 19 Xavier, 1-0, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. - UK hosted just its second NCAA Tournament game in the history of the program and its first since 2003. UK's NCAA Tournament berth was also its first in nine seasons, with the Wildcats making its fifth all-time postseason appearance.
Wednesday, Nov. 21 Men's basketball hosts Morehead State - 7:00 p.m. Volleyball at Missouri - 8:00 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 23 Volleyball at Auburn - 4:00 p.m. Women's basketball hosts Morehead State - 4:00 p.m. Men's basketball hosts LIU Brooklyn - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 24 Football at Tennessee - 12:21 p.m.
Senior Henri Junghanel has helped lead Kentucky to an undefeated record this season. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
The hunter has become the hunted. And the Wildcats, the former prey, are looking to track down the defending national champion TCU Horned Frogs on the rifle range this Saturday.
Texas Christian comes to Lexington, Ky., this weekend boasting the No. 1 ranking in the collegiate rifle ranks to set up a heavyweight battle between the two of the top three teams in the nation. The No. 3 Kentucky team, runner-up to TCU in last year's NCAA Rifle Championships, is looking forward to reigniting the rivalry they've built over the last few seasons.
"With both us being top programs in the country the last three or four years, when you go head to head, there's always that sense of they got us last year at the tournament or head-to-head from our perspective," said Kentucky head rifle coach Harry Mullins.
But the sport of rifle isn't basketball or football. There's no defense. That doesn't mean the level of competition won't be peaking in the range of the Buell Armory 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
"At the level we're going to compete at, it's going to be a grind-it-out, shot-for-shot-type of deal," said Mullins. "They don't know that as they compete, but I think they know in their subconscious that there's no room for error."
Though Kentucky has one of the toughest schedules in the country, Mullins has been able to mix and match his lineups to build experience. Kentucky's talent level has also allowed the Cats to relax a bit through the early portion of the schedule. With the TCU's and West Virginia's up ahead and more conference meets in the near future, Kentucky's margin for error is decreasing on a weekly basis.
That all starts with TCU. And the Cats are going to have to bring it from the first shot.
"An error is going to be costly on both sides, and I think both teams know that," said Mullins. "That's the atmosphere that's going to be brought into the range at both sides. You can't B-plus it most of the time and try to close strong. You have to bring you're A-game from start to finish."
Both teams come into the match undefeated. The Horned Frogs have reached the 4,700 mark, considered the benchmark of an elite-level competition, multiple times this season. Kentucky has broken the 4,700 barrier once this season shooting 4,716 earlier in the year against Army.
Eclipsing that mark will be necessary when facing the highest level of competition that the Cats have seen thus far in the season. In order for them to get that number, Mullins wants to see his athletes continue to forge together as a unit.
"I think we can put up a strong and great number when we're all together and clicking at the same time," said Mullins. "The key is for all of us to click at the same time. That's very, very hard to do."
The Wildcats just missed the mark in their most recent meet, falling just short at 4,697 in a win over Navy. It appears they're trending upward.
Over the last few weeks, Mullins has tried to emphasize the team-first mentality. Seniors Henri Junghanel and Stacy Wheatley and junior Emily Holsopple have anchored the team at times this season, carrying the Cats to their undefeated mark. This weekend is going to require a complete team effort.
Rather than focusing on beating No. 1, however, Mullins wants his team to continue to concentrate on what it does best. His team can't be worried about chasing some of the gaudy numbers that TCU's top seniors are capable of.
"We have to come in and do the things that we do best and that's to perform at our level," said Mullins. "When we perform at our level and our solid performance, we may have some good numbers like that. But more so, we will have solid number across the board from number one through number six."
Comfort and familiarity with the home range should be an advantage against TCU. Kentucky has been shooting very well in practices over the last few weeks, and the rising scores are indicative of that. The challenge the rest of the way will be to build the bridge from the practice rounds into the day of the competition.
"They feel they have a lot left to give," said Mullins. "The only question is when will they give it and will it be all at the same time? Under these conditions it would be a great accomplishment if they could do that."
Football - Linebacker Avery Williamson, who entered the game leading the league in total tackles, had a career-high 20 tackles. He is the first UK player with 20 or more tackles since Chad Anderson made 21 tackles against Georgia in 2003. - Kentucky has an open date Nov. 10 before returning to action Sat. Nov. 17 at home vs. Samford. Kentucky entered the weekend having played the toughest schedule in the nation, according to Anderson and Hester computer ratings used in the official BCS rankings.
Men's basketball - Kentucky was paced by a team-high 22 points from freshman Archie Goodwin in the win over, NAIA's No. 1 ranked team, Northwood. - Fellow freshman Nerlens Noel added a double-double effort with 17 points and 11 rebounds. - The meeting with Transylvania will mark the final preseason competition for the Cats, before UK travels to Brooklyn, N.Y., to open the Barclays Center with a season-opening contest against Maryland on Friday.
Volleyball - The 17 victories guarantees UK a winning season for an unprecedented eighth-consecutive season under UK coach Craig Skinner. - The Wildcats were paced by senior Ashley Frazier as she averaged 4.29 kills per set on an impressive .362 hitting percentage. Frazier had a career-high 20 kills against the Rebels to couple with a career-high eight digs in the win. - Senior setter Christine Hartmann directed the offense to the tune of 15.80 kills per set on a .372 hitting percentage. - Senior libero Stephanie Klefot continues to be an anchor for the Wildcats from the back line. She was perfect on her serve-receive attempts and averaged a squad-best 4.14 digs per set. With 29 scoops on the weekend, she became just the fourth player in SEC history to tally 1,800 or more digs in a career.
Women's soccer - Kentucky bowed out of the SEC Tournament to Missouri in the quarterfinals 2-1 in Orange Beach, Ala., on Wednesday. - Caitlin Landis scored UK's lone goal on Wednesday. Landis has scored three goals in the last two games.
Men's soccer - The Wildcats have been led offensively by Tyler Riggs and Matt Lodge, who have accounted for 14 goals (Riggs-7, Lodge-7) combined through 18 games .The duo has also connected for six assists (Riggs-4, Lodge-2) during the regular season. - UK will travel to Hoover, Ala. for the C-USA tournament game at 6:00 p.m. ET vs. Memphis.
Rifle - The University of Kentucky rifle team defeated No. 15 North Carolina State and The Citadel on Saturday, shooting a 4686 in the triangular match in Charleston, S.C. - Junior Emily Holsopple shot a personal-best 590 in smallbore. - Sophomore Jonathan Pinkel and freshman Luke South recorded personal bests in air rifle, Pinkel shooting a 591 and South a 590.
Women's golf - The UK women's golf team finished in sixth place at the Alamo Invitational with a score of 11-over-par, 875. - The squad set a program record with a final round of 6-under-par, 282. The Cats broke the previous school record of 284 for a round, which was set during the 2009-10 season. - Kentucky had two top-25 finishers as Ashleigh Albrecht placed tied for 22nd at 2-over, while Cylia Damerau was tied for 25th at 3-over.
Cross country - Cally Macumber was named Southeastern Conference Cross Country Runner of the Year on Friday. - The Rochester Hills, Mich., native won the SEC Championship Race on Oct. 26 and owns the SEC-best times at both 5,000 meters and 6K. She was also named a First Team All-SEC runner. - Macumber was the first Wildcat to win the women's SEC Title since Valarie McGovern won the conference meet in 1989. - The Kentucky cross country teams return to action on Nov. 9 for the NCAA Southeast Regional in Charlotte, N.C.
Swimming and diving - Kentucky divers junior Greg Ferrucci and freshman Rebecca Hamperian each picked up wins in the 1-meter and 3-meter events Friday against Auburn. - For the third consecutive Friday, sophomore Lucas Gerotto won the 100-butterfly (49.25) and has bested his time each meet. His sister, sophomore Julia Gerotto, earned her first win of the season with a victory in the 200-butterfly (2:02.44) while also picking up a second place finish in the 1000-freestyle (10:15.39).
Football - The UK defense continued to improve, limiting Missouri to 273 yards of total offense which was the lowest number of yards UK has allowed all season. - The Wildcat defense also created a season-high three turnovers in the game, getting two interceptions and a fumble recovery. J.D. Harmon was impressive in the effort for Kentucky, earning a career-best seven tackles on top of the two interceptions.
Volleyball - Senior setter Christine Hartmann narrowly missed out on a triple-double with nine kills, 52 assists and 11 digs against Tennessee. She directed four players to 10 or more kills in the match including 19 on a .472 hitting clip from senior Ashley Frazier. - With 21 digs against UT, senior Stephanie Klefot moved into sole possession of fourth place on the SEC all-time career digs leader list. - In the victory over Georgia, UK saw Hartmann lead the defensive effort with a career-high 19 digs. She passed out 58 assists and again found four players for 10 or more kills. - Freshman Sara Schwarzwalder led the defensive effort for the weekend with team-highs in blocks in both matches including matching a career-high eight in the victory against the Bulldogs. Women's soccer - UK's eight SEC wins marks the most conference wins for the Wildcats since the 1999 season. It ties a program record for most SEC wins in a season. - The Wildcats have shut out four of the last five opponents they have faced, as goalkeeper Kayla King has only allowed one goal in the last 422 minutes of action in the net. - UK finishes the season having six different freshmen score a goal, as the class accounted for more than 30 points on the season.
Men's soccer - Jack Van Arsdale notched his fourth shutout of the year and UK got splendid play from defenders Steven Perinovic, Jacob Kemper, Jacob Speed and Isak Krogstad in a win at No. 23 Tulsa. - UK has improved to 6-2 on the road in 2012, with the Wildcats tied for the second-most road wins in the NCAA entering the Saturday win.
Rifle - The No. 2 University of Kentucky rifle team defeated No. 15 Tennessee-Martin 4656 - 4577 Sunday in Barker Hall. - Freshman Connor Davis led the Wildcats with an aggregate score of 1170. - Junior Aaron Holsopple finished with a match high in smallbore, shooting a 582. Women's soccer - Senior Jessica Stiles finished the weekend 3-0 in singles play and 2-1 in doubles. Stiles' play left her in second for singles champion, one point off first. - Junior Khristina Blajkevitch capped off a perfect singles weekend with a 6-1, 6-1 win on Sunday.
Cross country - Cally Macumber achieved a feat no other University of Kentucky Wildcat had accomplished in 23 years when she won the SEC Cross Country Championship by a four-second margin with a time of 20:23.29 in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday. - The UK women placed fifth overall, while the men finished sixth. - Luis Orta was the first Wildcat to finish on the men's side in 24:10.83 over 8K. - Three Wildcats earned spots on the All-SEC teams by virtue of their performances at the Conference meet as Macumber and Oswald were named to the First Team, while Orta made the Second Team. - Macumber and Oswald each received All-SEC honors for the second time in their careers. Orta, a senior, reached All-Conference status for the third time.
Swimming and diving - The Kentucky men and women's swimming teams picked up their first wins of the season against Southern Illinois in a tri-meet. - Kentucky's men were led by sophomore Lucas Gerotto who picked up his second victory in the 100-butterfly (49.70) and took third in the 50-freestyle (21.15). The men also earned their first relay victory of the season in the 4x100-freestyle as Chris Lott, Will Heidler, Gerotto and Chris Thomas combined for the winning time of 3:05.62.The women pulled out two wins with senior Mandy Myers taking home first in the 100-buttefly with a time of 55.53. Sophomore Christina Bechtel earned her first win of the season as well with a win in the 200-butterfly with the winning time of 66.10.
Monday, Oct. 29 Women's golf at Alamo Invitational (San Antonio, Texas)
Tuesday, Oct. 30 Women's golf at Alamo Invitational (San Antonio, Texas)
Wednesday, Oct. 31 Women's soccer vs. Missouri (Orange Beach, Ala.) - 8:30 p.m. Men's soccer hosts UCF - 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 1 Men's basketball hosts Northwood - 7:00 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 Volleyball hosts Ole Miss - 7:00 p.m. Men's tennis at Collegiate Clay Court Tournament (Orlando, Fla.) Swimming and diving hosts Auburn - 2:00 p.m. Women's soccer SEC Tournament Semifinals (Orange Beach, Ala.) - TBA
Saturday, Nov. 3 Men's tennis at Collegiate Clay Court Tournament (Orlando, Fla.) Rifle at North Carolina State Football hosts Vanderbilt - 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 4 Volleyball hosts South Carolina - 1:30 p.m. Men's tennis at Collegiate Clay Court Tournament (Orlando, Fla.) Men's soccer hosts South Carolina - 1:00 p.m. Women's soccer SEC Tournament Championship (Orange Beach, Ala.) • TBA